Thursday, November 29, 2007

SILENCE IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE


I guess not so many readers of this page are into Godzilla movies. Your loss. Anyhow, the book about Eiji Tsuburaya consumed most of my working hours for the past five years and it's not right to exclude it from my work as a writer. It really is a groovy book.

ANYWAY, I've been thinking some about silence lately. I started to say this at my last talk at the Hill Street Center. But I wasn't in the mood that day to get too deep and "spiritual" so I don't think I conveyed the idea very well.

Simply put, my feeling is that the silence that underlies zazen practice is always available. In fact, this profound and mighty silence underlies all of our experiences -- from a long day of zen practice in a noble temple, to a KISS concert at Cobo Hall in Detroit circa 1977 (Love Gun tour, my favorite era), to a torrid night on the windswept dunes with the object of your affection bathed in silver-blue moonlight, to an afternoon cleaning up shit off the bathroom floor when the toilet has overflowed. Every experience rides atop an ocean of deep, deep silence. So deep and so silent you could never touch bottom. It makes the little bubbles and flotsam floating on its surface seem so insignificant they hardly matter at all. And yet though they (we) are just temporary shapes thrown up out of that endless silence, they (we) are made of nothing but silence. As silence we are endless, without boundaries, without names.

A lot of times people approach Zazen practice as if they have to forcibly generate silence into being. I've followed that rewardless path a hundred thousand times. But there is no need to try and create silence. It's always there, always flowing through you, creating you and creating the world that surrounds you. All you have to do is to allow it to be what it is.

Silence is never apart from you. It supports you through every experience. It carries you like a mother carries her child, protecting you from all harm. Silence is the strongest thing there is.

When you sit, don't worry if inner thoughts intrude or if outer disturbances interrupt your futile attempts to overcome them. Just allow the silence that manifests as every distraction to be what it is. Including your distraction at being distracted. It's all nothing but silence forming itself into temporary shapes. No matter what comes up, just return your attention to the silence that underlies everything.

I gotta go stop being a pretentious fuck. Later, dudes.

58 comments:

cometboy said...

I would have to say that the thing that I enjoy most about reading you blog is the bouncing back between the sacred and the profane(and I do understand that those are loaded terms). Sometimes the profane gets too much for me ( buttwipe, for example ), but that MAY just be the point.

I may have written this before, but the one thing that has kept me going with sitting is your comment that zazen is boring (LA Yoga interview, I think). With my limited experience so far, I have to agree. So I keep telling myself that I am doing it right. And to keep doing it.

Your talks and writing have never been boring. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Is the silence you're talking about here the same thing as 'emptiness', as in 'emptiness is form'?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

"Is the silence you're talking about here the same thing as 'emptiness', as in 'emptiness is form'?"

That's a great question. Sounds
like it might be, this silence hardly every comes up for me, to many images running through my skullet, though when this silence shows itself I enjoy for as long as it stays which is not long!

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Blake said...

Speaking of being torn between the void, emptiness and nothingness, I currently work at KU and got my job with the two degrees I received at MU.

Anonymous said...

"Silence, the only promise ever kept..."
-Lamb of God

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

Makes sense to me.
Thanks

DB said...

Brad wrote "Every experience rides atop an ocean of deep, deep silence."

Now this has got to stop. Either you're a mind-reader, or you've been hiding behind the curtains at the zendo on Sundays where I go to sit. Because this is almost EXACTLY what we talked about last week after zazen. Hell, it's nearly word for word.

I'll say here what I tried to say last week - that getting a glimpse every now and then of this silence (I called it calmness) in the midst of otherwise frenetic activity is what drew me to this practice. I certainly had no desire to get involved in or join a Zen Buddhist group. I just wondered where my calmest, sanest, clearest moments came from and wanted to know how to extend them or expand them.

That's it.

Several years later, prodded largely by HZ, Brad's first book, I find myself sitting zazen daily and reading things like this and going "Yeah, that's right. I don't know what it means exactly, but it's right." I don't think we create calm so much as notice it. I think it becomes easier to notice if we steep ourselves in it, like tea.

And since my analogies are getting worse now, I'll just be silent myself. :-)

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Just keeps getting bedda an bedda--the stuff you do in your non-paying metier--even if it makes you cranky at times --
you are absolutly eloquent in sharing such things as this:
silence

Jared said...

Cometboy Said:
"I would have to say that the thing that I enjoy most about reading you blog is the bouncing back between the sacred and the profane(and I do understand that those are loaded terms). "

I actually had to read. "The Sacred and The Profane" by Mircia Eliade for World Religions this semester. Don't read it unless you're really into the religious impact that the structure of your house has. Seriously.

I know this is the superficial aspect of what Brad said, but can people with tinnitus ever experience the silence of the universe?

Anonymous said...

"I know this is the superficial aspect of what Brad said, but can people with tinnitus ever experience the silence of the universe?"

I would say, no. I know people with tinnitus and they go through hell at nigh. they cant sleep cos of the ringing.

Jinzang said...

Is the silence you're talking about here the same thing as 'emptiness'?

In my opinion, no. As long is there is a sense of perceiving silence, that isn't emptiness. Like to hear other peoples' opinions, though.

Can people with tinnitus ever experience the silence of the universe?

As Brad says, the silence is within the noise.

Time to reach into my bag of quotes, this time from the Beatles.

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whispered words of wisdom, let it be."

Anonymous said...

Mysterion,
Please be silent.
Or as King Juan Carlos of Spain said to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, "Porque no te callas?"

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hot Damn, Brad! If you keep on like that,
people might think you're a Zen master
or something. Nicely said, though.

anonyMouse said...

excellent post!!

where's that Third book?

Dandypop said...

Hello Brad,
I DO like Godzilla-movies. What about 'Godzilla - Giant Monsters All-Out Attack'? That's a great one with Mothra and King Ghidorah; last one lies somewhere hidden in an ice-cave, an old Budhistlike bloke comes along and sees it shimmering in the dark...it's f*** great!
Anyway...yes silence...I agree, it's there all the time, but...it's getting cloudes sometimes. My trick? Pause for one minute during your daily activities (apart from sittin in Za-Zen which I do too of course), look around, smell, listen, touch; where am I, how's the sky looking (strange, purple fuelled clouds, a plain coming out of the distance etc. etc.). It keeps me alert and 'here and know' to please all you Eckhart Tolle-fans out there!
Keep up the good work Brad.

Anonymous said...

Brad - You wrote: "I gotta go stop being a pretentious fuck."

Did you mean to say that you have to stop being a pretentious fuck yourself, or that mysterion should stop being such a pretentious fuck? I don't think you consider yourself pretentious, so I am going to assume that you merely forgot a comma in exhorting mysterion to shut up.

Matt said...

crap. some things are popping up in my life where I may have the option to move from Ohio to California. Other options exist, but your zendo was a contributing factor to my weighing my options.

Also, i think it's just that no one is as big a Godzilla fan as YOU, buraddo-san...

peace
matt

dood said...

au contraire The entire Universe - as we know it - 'rings' at 3 degrees Kelvin. It is a very BIG bell and a very LOW frequency - but never silent. It is just far beyond our perception.

Mysterion - I bet you've never even been to space!

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
don said...

More than 100,000 marchers flooded the streets of Caracas yesterday to protest against proposed constitutional changes that would dramatically widen the powers of President Hugo Chavez.

As polls predicted an agonizingly close result in Sunday’s referendum, legions of protesters stormed along the Venezuelan capital’s central avenue, blowing whistles, waving placards and shouting “Not like this!”

Some taunted "Shut up!" echoing a outburst by King Juan Carlos of Spain at a recent summit, which has become a popular ring tone among students.

But Mr Chavez vowed that a march by his supporters, scheduled for today, would see Thursday’s turnout tripled. He has described his fresh-faced rivals as “daddy’s little children”, “fascists; and “the children of the rich”, accusing them of acting on orders from the US Government.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
salvapoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Mr. Chavez's Coup

A constitutional 'reform' could complete Venezuela's transformation into a dictatorship.

Plaudertasche said...

Nice read.
I lately experienced the "silence' while sitting in Zazen. It feels like you stand still, no time, no sound, being in a vacuum; that is what NOW is. Our mind is just to busy making stuff up constantly to creat stuff and make th NOW more interesting.

But NOW is over the top cool and a source of tremendous well being if you can manage to step outside your mind.

Love how you bring Buddhist/Zen into this century and add the Zeitgeist which traditional "Buddhist". Not to say the old wisdom has no value, hey we wouldn't be here without it! But to move things in this times you need to talk in a way most people get it, not just the "exclusive club members" ... Love your SG article!

Good luck transforming out of your old job/working life into a new one. It's always exiting to start new in life :))

Salvadore said...

It's true that silence is the root experience of our being. And once it is recognized it is very easily experienced again. And it's certainly a lovely experience, which is untouched by any mental or environmental noise.

But it would be all too easy to stop there and think that that is the end. That is the danger of beautiful experiences.

Yes, all the experiences rise 'atop an ocean of silence'.

But...

Within what does even this silence arise??

Anonymous said...

Mysterion said...
"
au contraire(on the contrary) The entire Universe - as we know it - 'rings' at 3 degrees Kelvin. It is a very BIG bell and a very LOW frequency - but never silent. It is just far beyond our perception.
...
Thus, silence is an aspiration, not a reality.
"

If the Universe and Mysterion are always ringing, then what sound does a half period or aperiodic sound wave make?

A translation of the Kalama sutra,
(a must read).
"...Rely not on the words of the teaching, but on the spirit of the words. Rely not on theory, but on experience.Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many..."

With respect.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...

Turbulent or random airflow fluctuations produce aperiodic sounds (without repeating patterns).

Thus, voiceless consonants in speech have no fundamental frequency. Although no glottal striations or are visible on a wide-band spectrogram and no glottal harmonics are visible on a narrow-band spectrogram the encoded speech is still decodes by the listener (within the same dialectical culture).

This helps explain the L&R and B&V jokes in the Ural-Altaic Language group. See Grimm's (of folklore fame)

Mysterion said...

is still decoded

Anonymous said...

"does a dog have buddhanature?"a monk once asked.

often an unsettled person throws their disturbance into many crashing crescendos into the silence like the pause between bomb blasts just so we'll know that he knows the why where when how what of silence.

the turn from inhalation to exhalation.

does mysterion know this is hardcore zen blog not mysterion blog bombardment?

is it safe to come out of the bomb shelter?

what the fuck was that?
just my neighbors dog barking?
maybe mysterion.

Jared said...

Anony said:
"I would say, no. I know people with tinnitus and they go through hell at nigh. they cant sleep cos of the ringing."

I actually have moderate tinnitus, and it can be very distracting at times (trying to fall asleep, sitting, etc.) It's worse when I sleep because the point of zazen is to just let everything be, but the point of sleeping is to SLEEP :-)

The very odd thing is that, since I've had tinnitus for as long as I can remember, I only have a conceptual understanding of what silence is (since to me, silence is a ringing.)

So I guess the sound of one hand clapping is...

BEEEEEEEEEEE*clap*EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

Anonymous said...

the man is learning.

Anonymous said...

Professor Mysterion went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."

Now, I too must go and try to stop being a pretentious fuck.

AnonyMouse said...

anonymouse is calearly annoyed with the frequency of someone's posts on this blog.

once again,

who give a shit?

anonymouse said...

hint: (heehee) there is NoOne To give a Shit. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

whatever.....

David said...

I liked this entry, Brad. I didn't think it was pretentious.

anonymouse said...

MYSTERION! tried to post acomment to yer blog, but cant post AnonyMousely.

dig your posts.

keep up the good work.

PEACE!!!


-AnonyMouse (strikes again)

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noiret Sym Laden said...

Mysterion,
Please defecate your excessive fecal matter on your own blog.

Anonymous said...

noiret sym laden,

please defecate your fecal matter into the toilet and not on this blog.

Noir Sym Laden said...

Anonymous said...
noiret sym laden,
please defecate your fecal matter into the toilet and not on this blog.

Anonymous,
Please go imitate 2 girls 1 cup and send the video to mysterion's blog.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
daiji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"Anonymous,
Please go imitate 2 girls 1 cup and send the video to mysterion's blog."


What does this mean?

noiret sym laden said...

Anybody else notice that mysterion has read all of the recipes but never cooked or tasted any of the food?

Jared said...

TWO GIRLS ONE CUP! TWO GIRLS ONE CUP!

My friend Kevin shows that video to anyone that he can. I think he's watched it way too many times considering the content.

After you've watched 2girls1cup, go to youtube and watch the 2girls1cup Song - it's hilarious, and not halfbad.

professor said...

I take the approach that without noise, you'd never know what silence really is... so enjoy the noise for what it is.

Besides - with tinnitus my world is never really silent anyway!

www.zenworlds.com said...

You are very clever. LOVE IT! You also have a keen awareness of great cartoon art!

shadow said...

Interesting blog reminds of a contractor I worked for his pet- peeve was no one was to step on his shadow anytime he was around-it was considered an insult.So we had to position ourselves with our backs to the sun when he was in the AiREiA.But about this silence/emptyness is not a empty glass in need of a fullness-a shadow in need of sun light so by being silent are you in need of noise then the silent becomes fullest and is in need of empty like a dog chasing its tail when he catches it he is no longer chasing it so we need it -concept-to be broken and not work this is true silence.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.